How Do I...make my own cookie cutters?

I love cookie cutters. They hold so much potential, so much possibility. You don't have to be an incredibly skilled decorator to own cookie cutters. But every time I look at a cutter, I think about the amazing cookies I would create if I was an incredibly skilled decorator. And then I buy the cookie cutter. I can't help it. How could I possibly look that cookie cutter in the eye and say, "I don't want you." Especially when its not true? (And also, especially because they don't actually have eyes.)

So I've had to stop looking at cookie cutters. But sometimes you just need a certain shape. (Like you need to eat those leftover cookies for breakfast, so that you can make more.) Since I lack the self control to go cookie cutter shopping...I make my own cookie cutters!

Its fairly simple really. And you can probably get everything you need from a local hardware store.
Aluminum Sheeting (also called sheet metal) -- I use 26 gauge, which is about as thin as you want them to be. You could probably step up the thickness to a 24 or 25 and be fine.
Tin Snips -- these are the giant scissor looking things. They cut metal really well.
Some sort of adhesive -- I chose this household sealant because it was safe for food, and holds up well to water. You do NOT want to poison anyone and you do NOT want your cutter to fall apart when you wash it.
Metal File
Yard Stick
The tiniest little clamps you can find
Clip art or drawing the size and shape you want your cutter to be
 ** If you are making a trip to the hardware store and don't already have should think about picking up some.  But they are not necessary.**

Draw a line on the aluminum sheeting about 1/2 - 1 inch from the edge. I make mine 1/2 inch because I like to get more cutters out of a piece of metal. But if you like your cutters a little taller/sturdier then go ahead and make them a little wider. No one will judge you. At least, I don't think they will. They shouldn't anyway. A person's cookie cutter width is their own business.

Now take your tin snips and cut away on the line you just drew. I would recommend cutting slowly and carefully. You want to make that line as smooth as possible because whatever jags or jumps you put in the metal on this step will have to be smoothed out in the next step.

Sometimes my strip will curl on itself while I am cutting it. I think it is the position of my hand relative to the angle of the sheet metal and proportional to the distance to the ground and maybe something to do with the phase of the moon... My point is - it doesn't really matter. (A very deep, philosophical point, I know.)

It does need to be straight, though. So if your strip curls, just flatten it out a bit. And then put on noise cancelling headphones. (Do they still make those?)

This step is by far my least favorite part. You have to file the edges to make them smooth. First file across the top of the metal strip. If you did a great job cutting, this part won't last too long. Make sure you file down all the little bumps that happen every time you opened the tin snips to make another cut. It sounds awful, I know. Go ahead and have someone scratch their fingernails on a blackboard to drown out the noise of the file.

Then put the strip parallel to the file and use long, smooth motions to take care of the "corners" on the metal strip. A word of caution -- the filing should probably done outside since you don't want your baby eating metal shavings (along with the pieces of lint and 2 day old food crumbs she always manages to find.) (Hypothetically.) And don't file right up close to your face because you don't want those shavings in your eyeballs either. And maybe use protective glasses.

Now take a break. Grab some lemonade. And if you disregarded my advice to file outside...maybe you should take this time to wipe up all those metal shavings before going any further. And while you are walking around your house, go ahead and pick up random objects. Ideally, try to make sure at least one of them is a pair of pliers. You are going to use these to help bend your cutter into the perfect shape.

Choose a starting point for your cutter. I usually start in the middle of a straight edge ...because its easier. However, if you are going to start on a corner, make sure you leave a small overhang at the end.

Start bending the sheet metal along the edge of your drawing or clip art. When you get to the first bend/corner/weirdly shaped part dig through your new stash of random objects and find something you can bend the metal around. Or, you know, walk around the house aimlessly until you find said object.

Work your way around the shape one bend at a time. For sharper turns or corners, I like to use needle-nose pliers. But sometimes I bend it in the wrong place. (Okay...OFTEN I bend it in the wrong place.) This is my second attempt at the crease in the top of the heart. See how I made it WAY too low the first time?

And now my metal strip is all wobbly and looking not at ALL the way a cookie cutter should look. Where is the promise and the potential?

Actually, its okay. If this happens to you, just straighten out the wobbles with something flat. Like flat pliers or a flat iron or a flat, umm, book or something.

See? Good as new something that was once flat and then was spirally and then bendy and then flattened again.

Keep going until you get back to your start point. Cut the metal strip about 1/2 inch past the start point. Use the pliers to pinch the two pieces of metal together so they are flush (as tight together as possible.) Then take your clamp and twist it until it is ALMOST closed. You want it to be just wider than your two pieces of metal together.

Dab some adhesive of your choice between the two layers of metal and pinch it together. Somehow manage to put the clamp on tight without squeezing adhesive all over your fingers.

Let your cutter sit overnight -- or at least twice as long as the adhesive says it needs to cure. Because as soon as its are going to want to wash it. Scrape off any adhesive that made its way out from between the overlapping edges and wash well with soap and water. Dry your cutter. Make beautiful, amazing creations.

The end.

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